It’s more than likely that the name “Corot” immediately elicits an idyllic scene of feathery trees bathed in the silvery light of the Ile-de-France; water might be gleaming somewhere in the picture, with a boatman in the distance, his red cap seasoning the expanse of subtly modulated gray-greens. The association is accurate. During his lifetime, as today, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875) was best known and most celebrated for his landscapes. Critics of the day acclaimed them, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century collectors in Europe and the United States responded to them enthusiastically, which accounts for the large number of pellucid Corot landscapes now in public collections. But throughout the five-and-a-half decades of his working life, and especially in his later years, Corot was also a painter of figures, usually solitary women, sometimes reclining nudes, bathed in...


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